INDIANAPOLIS, IN. (September 4th, 2016) Day 4 of 5 is officially in the books. The Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals is the only race of the year where the professional classes are awarded five qualifying runs as compared to the usual four. Qualifying for the professional classes stared with one session on Friday, two on Saturday, and two on Sunday.
Clay Millican gained his first pole position of the year with a 3.692 at 318.77 mph. Millican, who’s been in this position before, was nothing but thankful to his crew. “I’ll tell you what, it’s a huge accomplishment. Not just for me, but this whole team. We’re a single-car team, we don’t get information from anybody else. This is our car, our team, our tune up, and our people. They’ve done a wonderful job. I’m the one everybody’s talking to but the truth is, it’s these guys that make that happen. What the driver does during qualifying is just keep it nice and straight, and staging shallow. But really it’s a number one qualifier for them.” Despite qualifying number one, Millican has a tough customer in the first round, Terry McMillen. “It’s never ever easy. I’ve qualified in number one in the NHRA before, went to the final round and lost. This is the U.S. Nationals, nobody holds nothing back. I’m racing a guy tomorrow first round that’s literally fighting tooth and nail to get that final spot in the countdown. That’s Terry McMillen. He has nothing to lose, he’s gotta go for it. We can’t take that guy lightly. My focus right now isn’t on the final round, it’s on the first round.” Steve Torrence, Brittany Force, Tony Schumacher, Antron Brown, Doug Kalitta, Shawn Langdon, and Morgan Lucas round out the top eight qualifiers. All eyes will be on Leah Pritchett and Terry McMillen as they duke it out for the final spot in the countdown to the championship.
Matt Hagan started on top and stayed on top. Hagan and co. made a monster run during Q1 that earned him the green hat on Sunday as well as the track ET record. 3.858 at 33.80 mph was enough to keep the rest of the field at bay. This race happens to be his team Don Schumacher Racing’s home event. When asked if it added another layer of pressure he responded accordingly, “There’s always pressure — every run is make or break and you gotta be out there. We want TV time, we want interviews. All this stuff that we can get for our sponsors to keep things going. We’re very blessed and fortunate to have sponsors like Mopar, Pennzoil, Rocky Boots, Freightliner, and those folks that are supporting us. We have to do what we gotta do to keep them happy. So that brings pressure in and of itself.” Noticeably absent from the raceday ladder and countdown, is Cruz Pedregon. Pedregon has had a less than perfect season, but will look to continue racing for the rest of year and play spoiler. Jack Beckman, Ron Capps, Courtney Force, Tommy Johnson Jr., John Force, Del Worsham, Robert Hight lock out the top half of the field going into Monday’s eliminations.
Bo Butner was able to hold off Vincent Nobile to get the number one qualifying spot going into final eliminations on Monday. Butner, who is powered by KB Racing, ran a 6.571 to get the green hat. “I feel good about this weekend. The car’s very very fast again and I’m not driving terrible. It’s our race to win,” Butner said, “Go in there to do the best you can do, make the best run you can make, and do whatever it takes to win.” Greg Anderson, Shane Gray, Vincent Nobile, Jason Line, Alex Laughlin, Allen Johnson, and Matt Hartford make up the top half of the field. The round one matchup to watch is between Shane Gray and Erica Enders. Enders is currently fighting to keep her tenth spot in the points in order to solidify her position in the countdown. While Gray is currently trying to take Erica down in order to get his teammate Alex Laughlin into the tenth and final spot in the fight for the championship.
Pro Stock Motorcycle
Angelle Sampey was able to keep the alligator farmer, Jerry Savoie, and the Vance & Hines Screaming Eagle Harley-Davidson riders, Andrew Hines and Eddie Kraweic, off her back to get the top spot heading into the biggest race of the year. Sampey made a nice 6.812 at 197.02 mph pass. Jerry Savoie, Eddie Kraweic, Chip Ellis, Hector Arana Jr., LE Tonglet, Andrew Hines, Cory Reed fill in the second-eighth qualifying slots.